Innovative Housing, Inc. Newsletter
In This Issue
From Our E.D.
A New Take on The Rich
Growing Readers: IHI's Early Literacy Program
New Family Housing in Albany
Thanks to Our Donors, Every Child Has a Warm Coat!
Fork In The Road
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help
Innovative Housing, Inc.

support the hard-working families and individuals who live in our housing. 


musolf pic 

To make a donation online,

visit our website:


You can also mail your donation to: Innovative Housing, Inc.

219 N.W. Second Ave.

Portland, OR  97209


Thank you!



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please contact us at [email protected] 


A special note to our readers:  We recently cross referenced our email list and our hard copy mailing list.  To conserve resources (both natural and financial), we did not mail hard copy newsletters to those that we knew were receiving an email newsletter.  We are, however, happy to deliver our news in your preferred format, so if you would prefer a hard copy and did not receive one, please send us an email or give us a call at (503) 226-4368 x2 and we will put you back on the hard copy mailing list.  Thank you! 



2011 Resident Service Highlights 


In 2011 IHI touched the lives of many residents, helping them meet basic needs, increase household stability, increase or secure incomes, and achieve academic success.   


IHI is proud to report that we:
  • Prevented 335 evictions and provided financial education to 108 households
  • Helped 240 residents advocate for themselves
  • Provided 989 resource referrals
  • Assisted 81 residents acquire benefits
  • Sponsored 212 community events at 8 sites; 900 residents participated
  • Facilitated 101 workshops at 8 sites that were attended by 791 residents
  • Served 3,641 free summer lunches at three sites
  • Gave 208 children backpacks and school supplies and distributed 1,180 other direct resources including food, clothing, and household items
  • In partnership with the Oregon Food Bank, distributed free fresh fruits and vegetables to an average of 110 families per month.

Winter 2011

From IHI's Executive Director
Sarah J. Stevenson


My grandmother turned 100 this week. We celebrated her at a small family party and at a larger community event where many people turned out to share memories and stories of how she has touched their lives. That event started me thinking about how we all touch others, in both big and small ways. I think most of us work hard to do the right thing and take good care of our loved ones. But I also think many of us are driven by something within to make a bigger mark on society.


The desire to change the world for the better and the reality that many of us don't have the time or resources to effectively do so can be disheartening. Faced with a newspaper full of intractable problems and the inability to tackle them can even make us feel like giving up and leaving the "world changing" to other people. Don't do it! In this cold, dark winter don't stop yourself from doing one small thing that will give someone else the power to do their one small thing. If you have the ability to write one check, buy one extra bag of groceries, serve one meal, or mentor one child, you have the power to make change, and you never know how big it may be. Helping one family feed their children one dinner on one critical night may give those parents the will to keep fighting. Contributing to one campaign may enable one lawyer to win one critical case and change the landscape for the better. Buying one extra gift this holiday season may bring one smile to one child's face that is priceless and forever alters her memory of this Christmas.


Tiny steps create big change. Certainly, epic shifts require significant sacrifices and dynamic leadership. But the face of change is rarely its true driver. Rather, small actions by hundreds and thousands of anonymous individuals over long periods of time build movements that cannot be stopped. What this means to me is that we are all still on the hook as change agents and we have the opportunity to be part of something big, even if we aren't leading the march or negotiating the compromise. Choose your cause, whatever it may be. Then do something small and easy. Your contribution might feed, shelter, or clothe the next Martin Luther King Jr. or keep a father from giving up hope on the darkest of nights. Whatever you do, I bet it is one of the best gifts you give yourself this holiday season.


Thank you for taking the time to read IHI's newsletter and learn about the big and small ways we touch the lives of our residents. As the days get shorter and colder, I wish you all a safe, warm home and loving friends and family with whom to share it. Best wishes for a happy holiday season!

A New Take on The Rich


For the past year, Innovative Housing has been seeking a development opportunity that doesn't require us to tap scarce affordable housing resources and we have found it! In October 2011 IHI acquired the historic Rich Building in Old Town, Portland. IHI is investing $800,000 of its own capital and using conventional construction and permanent financing to redevelop this property into 34 studio apartments and four revitalized commercial storefronts. Doing this project without any public funds gives us maximum flexibility in design and use, significantly reducing development costs and preserving city and state resources for other affordable developments.


The Rich was originally built in 1905 as a railroad hotel and has housed many people over the decades. Unfortunately,

The Rich
On location with Grimm at The Rich Building

it has been vacant for the past several years and has fallen into a state of disrepair. IHI's plans to polish this diamond in the rough include retaining as much original material as possible, refinishing fir floors, repairing and retaining original wood windows, and reusing historic unit doors. The building currently contains 42 single room occupancy (SRO) units, which are rooms without kitchens or bathrooms. IHI will combine SROs to create larger, studio apartments that will each have a kitchen and bathroom. Contemporary cabinetry, lighting, and paint will help blend an edgy modern aesthetic with cool historic elements. Staying true to our name, Innovative Housing is going to punch a second story light well through to the ground floor to create an interior courtyard. This will provide outdoor space for residents, access to eight new ground floor residential units, and outside dining for a new restaurant that will anchor the commercial space.


The Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood is home to many low income people and adjacent downtown districts house many high income households. But downtown Portland lacks housing for people who find themselves in between. The Rich will help fill this gap by providing workforce housing for people who work downtown and want to live close to their jobs, those who want to live in an urban environment but can't afford the Pearl, and students at the newly developed Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, which is being renovated just one block away. Because IHI is a mission driven organization, rents will be affordable but we won't have to burden residents with annual income certifications and other paperwork that is typically required at affordable properties.    


While we work with architects, engineers, and contractors to finalize plans and secure building permits, The Rich is being used as a filming location for Grimm, a new series on NBC. Check out Episode 10 for a spooky inside look at The Rich and read more about IHI's newest housing project at our website


Growing Readers:
IHI's Early Literacy Program

Babies are born learning. The first three years of life are critical for building a young child's brain-over the first year of life the brain more than doubles its size;

early lit
Volunteers and IHI staff read stories, lead games and art projects, and help families prepare healthy snacks to enjoy while reading together.

by age three a child's brain is twice as active as an adult's brain and has grown to 90% of its adult weight. Early literacy skills and experiences during this time build the foundation for future academic and reading success. To help our residents give their children the best foundation possible, IHI offers an early literacy program at our family sites.


IHI developed the Growing Readers program to provide pre-school aged children and their parents with practical, funstorytime-filled tools to encourage early reading skills. 
Together with our partner in literacy, the Multnomah County Library, IHI's Resident Services staff and community volunteers host educational events that are enjoyable for both parents and children. Each month we offer interactive storytimes, music and
movement classes, and art book bagactivities for families where they live. We also provide healthy snacks and take-home book bags so learning and reading can continue at home. 


Parents learn about early literacy, get tips and tools to engage and encourage their children to read and build vocabulary, and have an opportunity to network with each other. Everyone learns that reading is fun!

New Family Housing in Albany 


On November 16, 2011 the Central Albany Revitalization Area (CARA) Advisory Board unanimously voted to award $1.45 Million of urban renewal funds for Innovative Housing's redevelopment of the Woodland Square trailer park. The trailer park is located on a gateway parcel along Old Salem Road and has long been identified by neighbors and CARA as a blighted site in need of improvement. Innovative Housing is proposing to develop 54 new units of affordable housing for working individuals and families, including accessible flats and townhouse style family apartments.


Woodland Square
Rendering by ORANGEWALLstudios

In addition to replacing old and unsafe trailers with new apartment homes, IHI will restore the Periwinkle Creek canyon that runs along one edge of the property. IHI has also committed to spending 15% of total project costs on local contractors and suppliers, so that CARA's investment directly benefits the local economy.


IHI's development team includes Greenberry Construction as general contractor and Bill Ryals and Gary Hartill of ORANGEWALLStudios Architecture + Planning as architects for this exciting and catalytic new project.


With this substantial local funding commitment, IHI will now submit an application to Oregon Housing and Community Services for grants and federal low-income housing tax credits to complete development sources for this $10.6 Million project.

Thanks to Our Donors, Every Child Has a Warm Coat!

Six years ago, IHI received a phone call from a resident who was concerned that her neighbor's children were walking to school in cold winter weather without coats.  IHI inquired and learned that the family could not afford coats for their children.  That was the beginning coats for kids 1of our Coats for Kids Campaign and we are proud that no child living at an IHI property has since gone without a winter coat.  This is only possible thanks to the support of our donors.  IHI extends its gratitude to the following individuals and companies who so generously contributed to IHI's Sixth Annual Coats for Kids Campaign:

Alder Geotechnical Services/John Cunningham

Travis and Sarah Carter Adams

BK Enginers/William Berry

Doug Blomgren

Francis Guevara

Greenberry Industrial

Income Property Management

LMC, Inc.

McMenamins, Inc.

Network for Oregon Affordable Housing

Nielsen Insurance Agency

Judy Ohl

Chris and Debra Jo Page

Right of Way Associates

Michelle Silver

Dean Sterner

Bill and Kerry Stevenson

Stewart Sokol & Gray LLC

Walsh Construction Co./OR

Jan Yocom

  coats 2

  Fork In The Road

We are happy to announce that IHI's largest family property, located in Gresham, has been selected as a pilot site for Fork In The Road.  Fork In The Road (FITR) is a brand new, community-based, mobile grocery and food provider.  Using an innovative mobile distribution system (aka: a truck), FITR will bring nutritious, culturally appropriate foods to convenient locations in underserved communities.  FITR hosted their first mobile market event

Fork in the Road
Resident families shopped for healthy meals without leaving home!

at Village Square on Thursday, November 17th.  Their truck wasn't quite ready, so they kicked off the program from the Village Square community room.  FITR was on site from 4-7 pm with groceries and several different meal kits including black beans and sausages with rice and chicken quesadillas.  They even provided cooking demonstrations to show how easy it can be to prepare quick, delicious, and healthy meals.  They were met by enthusiastic residents who went home with recipes and all of the ingredients needed to prepare dinner.  FITR hopes to be able to accept food stamp and WIC vouchers soon-in the meanwhile, IHI matched the first $5 of resident payments toward healthy family meals.  The average cost of a full meal for four was between $5 and $8.


FITR is a team of local business advisors, students, and community partners that believe in a thriving local food economy and in using the power of business to impact positive social change.  FITR partners with independent food wholesalers, community organizations, and local leaders to provide affordable healthy food options to residents of urban food deserts.


IHI is excited to be a part of this innovative food distribution pilot.  FITR's mission aligns perfectly with IHI's Healthy Generations Program and our focus on improving residents' nutritional knowledge and ability to prepare healthy meals for their families.  We applaud FITR for recognizing that the lack of access to healthy foods is an issue for many low-income households and thank FITR for selecting Village Square to pilot their great new program.

Innovative Housing Inc.                                                                    2011